By now, the news of Kobe Bryant's tragic death this past week has relayed across all major networks and media outlets. In the same breath, I will note that Kobe's daughter, and 7 other passengers, were also killed in the high-speed helicopter-crash in Calabasas. This one stings hard for me.
I'm being completely honest with myself, I never loved Kobe's style of play. But Kobe Bryant shaped my childhood, and steered me towards the better parts of my teenage years. Kobe fed my early work ethic like no other— and as a kid to a single-mother working two jobs, Kobe Bryant meant everything to me.
Kobe was not only a winner. Above all, Kobe showed why and how we was a winner in the media— more so than Michael Jordan or Lebron James ever portrayed on screen. He wanted the audience to know: this is how I am successful, and no one else works harder than I do.
The ultra-competitive spirit of Kobe rarely meshes well in a 9-5 job, or a class-room environment. You're supposed to work together, aren't you? Kobe was famous for blurring that line distinguishing friend or foe. This was the persona that cultivated the Kobe worshipers. This was the aggression that make Kobe Bryant so polarizing and captivating.
In simpler terms: "Mamba Mentality". With the help of Nike, the endorser Kobe built the majority of his brand on, Kobe built his image in basketball circles as an athlete who was consistent, fearless, and possessed the winner's mentality. The "Black Mamba"— Kobe's on-court alias which so many players revered, transcended above basketball. "Mamba mentality" transformed into a pop culture phrase that said it all without saying much: "daily commitment", "worked harder than you", "fearless under pressure", "winner's mentality".
Why wouldn't a kid yell "Kobe" on the game winning shot?